In and Around Fitchburg, Massachusetts

This blog was created to discuss some of the positive aspects of living in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, that are often overlooked by outsiders and residents alike.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Kayaking the Nashua River

New England in general is a fabulous place for kayaking. I’ve been very happy with the many options available in the Fitchburg area, with one great river, the Nashua River, running right through our city. Unfortunately, my kayak’s built for calmer waters rather than whitewater, so I’m not able to make use of the Nashua River here in Fitchburg. Anyone out there have any firsthand experience with that? Detailed hydrologic info can be found through the National Weather service at this site.

I instead typically launch from the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge. You can get to the boat launch site by taking Route 2 to Exit 38 (Route 110/111) south toward Harvard; bear right to stay on Route 110 at Harvard Center; and, turn right onto Still River Depot Road at the Still River Post Office. The refuge parking area is at the end of Still River Depot Road, past the railroad tracks.

If you go left (under the bridge) from the launch, you’ll head upstream toward the Bolton flats. There are a number of shallow areas and downed timber as well as some occasional decent current on this route. But the payoff is some great quiet and privacy. If you go right from the launch through former Fort Devens territory toward route 2, you’ll encounter fewer obstacles but more people (certainly not crowds though) and increasing road noise as you approach the highway. There are some nice little coves to explore along the way.

For other trip ideas in the Fitchburg area and also throughout southern New England, I would highly recommend the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Quiet Water publication for our region. Through this book, I learned about other good nearby kayaking spots, such as Paradise Pond in the Leominster State Forest, where efforts are in progress to reintroduce loon to the pond.

Have fun, and let us all know of any kayaking opportunities in the area that you’d recommend!



At August 08, 2007 5:22 PM, Blogger Donna said...

I have heard that there is a launch somewhere near the Mall at Whitney Field, but I'm not certain exactly where it is.

At August 09, 2007 1:37 PM, Blogger kgagne said...

The launching site is located at the confluence of the Nashua River & the Monoosnoc Brook. When entering Searstown from the Leominster Connector direction, once you cross over the bridge at Home Depot, you go over the dirt mound on your right and park in that lower elevation area. Then carry your kayak over the river dike and launch.

The launch area has not been maintained for several years and therefore might be a little overgrown. Many canoeists still launch from that area so I presume it is still accessible.

At August 09, 2007 2:52 PM, Blogger kgagne said...

OTOH, my brother tells me:

"There was supposed to be a canoe launch built at the bridge by the contractor of Home Depot years ago, but instead, an extra settling basin was built for flood storage, so therefore, no launch..."

At November 28, 2007 11:25 PM, Blogger John said...

There is an easy put in to the Nashua right aside the I-190 bridge across the river. Take the Rte 117 exit off I190, go east of the highway and look for a turn off on the north side of Rte 117. it will lead up to a turn around dead end. Easy parking. There is a pathway from the road down to the river at the foot of the river. It is overgrown with sumac trees but passable. Cleaning this up would be a great Scout project. But it is passable. The put in at the foot of the path is easy and within a minute of paddling downstream you will leave the sounds and sight of the highway behind. The run down to Lancaster is beautiful. Take out at the next place Rte 117 crosses the river or proceed around to the Ox Bow put in described above. I've done that trip before and it is a great day trip in the spring when the river if flowing. Wildness so close to home.


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